Tips on closing up your cottage for the winter
With the sights and sounds of fall fairs overwhelming our senses and cool frosty mornings bringing a chill to the air, it can only mean that our beautiful Ontario cottage days are coming to an end. With a backdrop of brightly coloured autumn leaves, I have put together a few handy reminders on how to safely close up your summer cottage properties before winter is upon us:
Take a walk around your cottage
All those innocuous little holes are the perfect place for critters to burrow away for the winter. While the weather is still nice, take the time to look for any small openings on the exterior of your property and cover them up, by boarding them up with wood, or perhaps stuffing the hole with a deterrent, like steel wool.
Notice any branches overhanging your roof? Cut them down now, to avoid large deposits of ice and snow falling onto your roof over the winter.
And while you are up on the ladder, take a look at your roof and chimney. Consider having a roof inspection and repairing any damage before the first snowfall. Inspect your chimney for damage such as rust or soot buildup, and consider installing a chimney cover to avoid another point of entry for animals into your home.
Schedule an eavestrough cleaning as close as possible to when you finally leave your un-winterized cottage to remove as many fallen leaves as possible. Clogged eavestroughs can lead to a build-up of snow and ice, and can damage your roof and exterior as the mass slowly thaws without being able to properly drain.
Inspect your outdoor equipment and furniture — boats, barbecues, lawnmowers, and lawn furniture. Be ready to repair, clean, oil, remove propane tanks, add a fuel stabilizer to boat engines, and prepare a secure, clean, dry area away from water to store your equipment for the winter.
If needed, schedule a full maintenance of your septic system. The last thing you want is to come back to your cottage next spring and have a septic disaster on your hands!
Winding up your home
When it is finally time to leave, here are a few must-dos for the inside of your lovely cottage:
Empty your kitchen cupboards and take all your food home with you. Even canned goods can be tempting to a starving critter. Also empty your fridge and freezer, clean and disinfect it, unplug it and wedge the doors open for the winter, and use baking soda to help to avoid staleness.
Cover with plastic sheets any soft furniture (mattresses, sofas) that would make a warm home for mice.
Shut off the water system, including your water heater, and drain all pipes. Any residual water in a pipe can freeze, expand, and cause a pipe to burst — leaving you with an expense and no running water when you return in the spring. Vulnerable pipe junctions can be wrapped to keep them warm. Consider filling pipes with a non-toxic antifreeze to help protect your water system through the winter.
Turn off or turn down any heating systems in your cottage. Disconnect all appliances and shut off the applicable breakers — or all breakers, depending on what works for your cottage setup.
Remove all garbage from inside and outside your cottage!
Garbage invites unwanted pests.
And finally, lock up and have a peaceful winter, knowing your cottage is secure for your return.
But until then, here’s hoping for a few more weeks of cottage fun!